Tofino’s district office believes the Village Green’s playground is a valuable community gathering space and is hoping to replace the current equipment with a $160,000 upgrade. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Tofino seeks playground funding after AVIVA application falls short

“We’re disappointed but, at the same time, we knew it was a bit of a long-shot.”

A grant opportunity that would have helped Tofino replace the aging playground at its Village Green has been swung at and missed.

Tofino’s district office applied for an AVIVA Community Grant, a national project-funding program based on online voting, but learned on Nov. 1 that the town’s relatively small population base was unable to generate enough votes to push the project to the next round.

“We’re disappointed but, at the same time, we knew it was a bit of a long-shot due to the size of our community and the national reach of this grant opportunity,” said Tofino’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers.

The grant was worth $80,000 and would have covered half the cost of a roughly $160,000 playground the district hopes to install at the Village Green.

“It’s been a bit of a point of pride for the community for many years and, I think, we continue to see it being that into the future, so it’s imperative that we put in a playground that attracts people and continues to allow the Village Green to be the heart of Tofino,” Rodgers said.

“We’re putting our thinking caps on and we’re going to go explore a couple more opportunities…We’ll look at possibly scaling back the project if we have to, but we have a bit of time yet to try to figure this out so we’ll be pounding the pavement to look for some non-taxpayer resources.”

He said a new playground is needed because the current one is reaching the end of its roughly 20-year lifespan and has been vandalised over the years, including a large slide that needed to be removed at the start of the summer after a hole was smashed into the bottom of it.

“There was a giant hole on the underside of the slide and obviously that’s very unsafe so we had to take that out and we boarded it up,” Rodgers said adding replacing the slide is on the back-burner while a new playground is being investigated. “We want to look at purchasing a new [playground] rather than repairing one that we’re going to have to replace anyways in a year or two.”

He acknowledged putting infrastructure projects together for a population of 1,967 locals that can also cater to the hundreds of thousands of visitors Tofino receives each year is challenging.

“It’s a challenge we face throughout the municipality…We know we need to build sidewalks for more than 1,900 people and we need to design water systems for more than 1,900 people and it’s the same with the parks,” he said. “It’s just the nature of where we live and the time we live in.”

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